The Imperial Nobility is a narrow class of persons at the upper strata of Imperial Society who hold, either personally or through their family line, noble rank from the Emperor.
Please see the following AAB articles for more information:
- Third Imperium
- Feudal Confederation
- Imperial Autonomous Region
- Imperial Bureaucracy
- Imperial Calendar
- Imperial Cultural Region
- Imperial Currency
- Imperial Law
- Imperial Leadership
- Imperial Research Station
- Imperial Symbols
- 1 Description (Specifications)
- 1.1 Ranks & Titles (Entitlement)
- 1.2 Noble Ranks Data
- 1.2.1 10. Gentleman / Gentlewoman
- 1.2.2 9. Knight / Dame
- 1.2.3 8. Baronet / Baronetess
- 1.2.4 7. Baron / Baroness
- 1.2.5 6. Marquis / Marchioness or Marquesa
- 1.2.6 5. Viscount / Viscountess
- 1.2.7 4. Count / Countess or Contessa
- 1.2.8 3. Duke / Duchess
- 1.2.9 2. Archduke / Archduchess
- 1.2.10 1. Emperor / Empress
- 2 History & Background (Dossier)
- 2.1 Noble Privilege
- 2.2 Distinguishment (Noble Discernment)
- 2.3 Customs (Protocol & Privilege)
- 2.4 Noble Houses
- 2.5 Imperial Clans
- 2.6 World-State (Local) Nobility
- 2.7 Typical Noble Elevation Sequence
- 2.8 Ducal Elevation Sequence
- 3 References & Contributors (Sources)
The Imperial Nobility not only forms the upper class and elites of the Third Imperium, but it also is the major source of administrators, military officers, and gentlesophonts of service and honor. While humans form the backbone of this class, increasing numbers of non-humans have claimed or earned Imperial Title.
Ranks & Titles (Entitlement)
The lowest noble rank is knight; the highest level is archduke. (Above the archdukes is the special station accorded members of the Imperial family, but they are not formally considered part of the nobility.)
The standard ranks of Nobility are:
- 1. Emperor / Empress
- 2. Archduke / Archduchess
- 3. Duke / Duchess
- 4. Count / Countess or Contessa
- 5. Viscount / Viscountess
- 6. Marquis / Marchioness or Marquesa
- 7. Baron / Baroness
- 8. Baronet / Baronetess
- 9. Knight / Dame
Noble Ranks Data
Third Imperium Noble Ranks Data Table # Rank Social Standing (T5 Code) Fiefdom & Land Grant † Territory (Landed Nobles) Rule (Landed Nobles) Sector Equivalent (Landed Nobles) Subsector Equivalent (Landed Nobles) Moot Votes (Landed Nobles) Title Granter Remarks 01a. Emperor / Empress 17 (H) Fiefdom - Private Imperial Reserve World: (Usdiki) / THexes: 256x2 within the Imperium. / Fiefdom - Private Archducal Reserve World: (Onon) / THexes: 256x2 within the Domain of Sylea. Imperium Entire Imperium / Domain of Sylea All All Yes (?)‡ Moot Validation Highest Noble. The Emperor rules the entire Third Imperium. 01b. Prince / Princess 17 (h) Fiefdom: Private reserve world / THexes: 256x2 within the Imperium. Imperium Per subsidiary titles Per subsidiary titles Per subsidiary titles Yes (6 ?)‡ Emperor / heredity Imperial Family: Close relative of the Emperor. An Imperial consort may also be granted this title. 02a. Archduke / Archduchess 16 (G) Fiefdom: Private reserve world / THexes: 256x2 within the Domain. Domain Oversees a Domain. Nominally 4 up to 64 5 Emperor High Nobility. A handful of Archdukes, usually 6 to 7, report to the Emperor. 02b. Grand Duke / Grand Duchess 16 (g) Fiefdom: One world / THexes: 128x2 within the Sector. Grand Duchy Oversees a Sector or multiple Subsectors, usually four subsectors. ⅛ to 1 2-16 4 Emperor High Nobility. Ceremonial title rarely granted anymore. Some Archdukes have been known to appoint Grand Dukes or elevate (promote) Dukes to Grand Dukes with the permission of the Emperor. Also a former Sylean title. 03a. Subsector Duke / Subsector Duchess 15 (F) Fiefdom: Subsector Capital World land grant (generally not more than 100,000 km2) -and/or- THexes: 128x2 within the Sector. Duchy Oversees a Subsector. 1/16 1 4 Emperor High Nobility. Dukes report to Archdukes, and rarely to Grand Dukes. 03b. Duke / Duchess 15 (f) Fiefdom: Variable land grant on an Important World, generally not more than 100,000 km2 -and/or- THexes: 64x2 within the Sector. Duchy or District Oversees a group of worlds within a Subsector, or oversees a partial Subsector from an Important World within the Subsector. Fraction Significant Fraction 4 Emperor High Nobility. Dukes report to Archdukes, and rarely to Grand Dukes. 04. Count / Countess (Contessa) 14 (E) Fiefdom: Variable land grant, typically on an Industrial or High Population world, generally not more than 10,000 km2 -and/or- THexes: 32x2 within a Sector. County Oversees a cluster of worlds within a Subsector, or oversees a partial Subsector, usually including an Industrial or High Population world. Small Fraction Fraction 3 Emperor Administrative rank. Counts typically rule several Lesser Nobles. 05. Viscount / Viscountess 14 (e) Fiefdom: Variable land grant, typically on a pre-High Population world, generally not more than 10,000 km2 -and/or- THexes: 16x2 within a Subsector. County Oversees a cluster of worlds within a Subsector, usually including a pre-High Population world. Small Fraction Fraction 3 Emperor Administrative rank. Viscounts typically rule over several Lesser Nobles. 06. Marquis / Marchioness (Marquesa) 13 (D) Fiefdom: Variable land grant, typically on a pre-Industrial world, generally not more than 1000 km2, -and/or- THexes: 8x2 within a Subsector. Marquisate Oversees 1 world, usually a pre-industrial one with a capable starport. Tiny Fraction Small Fraction 2 Emperor Honour Nobility and Administrative rank. Marquises typically serve in Imperial administrations or important planetary governments. 07. Baron / Baroness 12 (C) Fiefdom: Modest land on a single world, generally not more than 100 km2 -and/or- THexes: 4x2 within a System. Barony Oversees Baronial land grant, or a Rich or Agricultural world. None None 1 Emperor or (occasionally) Archduke Honour Nobility and Administrative rank. Barons typically serve in Imperial administrations or planetary governments. 08. Baronet 12 (c) Fiefdom: No territorial grant (or 2x2 THexes within a System). Baronetcy or Manor/Lordship None. (Occasionally oversees a pre-Rich or pre-Agricultural world). None None 1 Emperor or Archduke Honour Nobility. Primarily a status (prestige) rank. Also a sign of service and loyalty. Some serve in minor capacities in Imperial or Domain administrations or planetary governments. 09. Knight / Dame 11 (B) Fiefdom: No territorial grant (or 1x2 THexes within a System). Manor None None None 0 Emperor or Archduke Honour Nobility. Solely a status (prestige) rank. Also a sign of service and loyalty. 10. Gentleman / Gentlewoman 10 (A) No territorial grant (or 1 THex). None None None None 0 Various Not technically a rank of nobility.
- Often a member of a World-State Nobility.
- † - THex = "Terrain Hex" = 6500 km2. Each THex generates Cr10,000/annum in revenue per trade classification (Cr5000/annum if there are no Trade Classifications).
- ‡ - Moot votes are normally allocated per the highest subsidiary title.
10. Gentleman / Gentlewoman
Not technically a rank of nobility. An Imperial Gentleman is one who is independently wealthy at a level in which he interacts with Imperial Nobility. He may be a significant member of local planetary aristocracy, the descendant of an Imperial Knight, or related to a non-inheriting cadet-line of an Imperial Noble Title. An Imperial Gentleman might be known by any number of different local titles from local world cultures or traditions, including such Galanglic titles as, Lord, Esquire, Patrician, Thane, Master, Holder, etc., or alternatively, might be known by no special title at all other than "Imperial Gentleman".
In addition to personal property and lands, an Imperial Gentleman may occasionally hold a single terrain hex as a land grant, usually on a non-mainworld within a system.
9. Knight / Dame
The lowest of noble ranks is knight, awarded as an honorific rank in recognition of achievement or service.
- A knighthood entitles the individual to use the prefix Sir (some females prefer Dame, but such usage is obsolete) before the name, and to suffix the initials of the order of knighthood after the name.
- Knighthood is awarded within an order. Several dozen orders of knighthood exist within the Imperium. Some are restricted to specific classes of individuals, such as members of the Imperial Family, racial Aslan, racial Vargr, or other special groups.
- Others are awarded for specific achievement or service, or for holding specific positions within the government.
- Still others are broadly based orders into which most new knights are inducted.
- Those rare knights who are awarded a land grant (usually as part of an appointment as Imperial representative for a world) generally receive no more than 10km2, or alternatively a single terrain hex on the world with an associated terrain hex on a non-mainworld in the same system.
- See: Knight for a discussion of Ranks and Orders of Knighthood.
8. Baronet / Baronetess
Intermediate between the first and second level of noble rank is the baronet. Baronet is a special form of baron normally awarded by an archduke of one of the domains of the Imperium. Baronets rank below barons in seniority and precedence. Although the Emperor can create baronets (either as Emperor or in his capacity as Archduke of Sylea), in practice they are usually created only by the archdukes. Those baronets specifically created by the Emperor as Landed Baronets are usually accorded voting rights as Peers, despite not normally being considered as such. A baronetcy entitles the individual to use the prefix Baronet before the name. Those rare baronets who are awarded a land grant (usually as part of an appointment as Imperial representative for a world as a Landed Noble) generally receive no more than 10-100 km2, or alternately 2 terrain hexes on the fief-world with 2 associated terrain hex on non-mainworlds in the same system. Landed Baronet fiefs are generally granted on pre-Rich or pre-Agricultural worlds. .
7. Baron / Baroness
The second level of noble rank is the baron, the lowest level normally accorded membership in the peerage. Barons are referred to in several different styles including the use of prefixes to the surname (such as ap-, von-, haut-, or hault-) and or the title Baron (or Baroness for females). An individual accorded a barony for service may receive a fief of land on a single world, generally not more than 100 km2, or alternately may receive 4 terrain hexes on the fief-world with 4 associated terrain hexes on non-mainworlds in the same system if he has an appointment as a Landed Noble. Landed Baron fiefs are generally granted on Rich or Agricultural worlds. When a barony includes a fief, then the title is generally followed by the fief's name (such as Baron Solvenos).
6. Marquis / Marchioness or Marquesa
The third level of noble rank is the marquis. A Landed Marquis is associated with a single world (generally a pre-industrial one with a good starport). When a marquisate includes a fief, then the title is generally followed by the fief's or world's name, as in the Marquis of Aramis (or, alternatively, the Marquis Aramis). An individual accorded a marquisate may receive a fief of land on a single world, generally not more than 1000 km2, and/or 8 terrain hexes on mainworlds within the fief-world's subsector, with an associated non-mainworld terrain hex for each mainworld hex in the same respective system(s) if he has an appointment as an Imperial Landed Noble. Landed Marquis fiefs are generally granted to pre-Industrial worlds.
5. Viscount / Viscountess
The fourth level of noble rank is the viscount, and is generally associated with two or three worlds within a subsector, usually including one that is classified as pre-high population. The cluster of star systems rarely contains any important, industrial, or high population worlds. An individual accorded a viscountcy may receive a fief of land, generally not more than 10,000 km2, and/or 16 terrain hexes on worlds within the fief-world's subsector, with an associated non-mainworld terrain hex for each mainworld hex in the same respective system(s) if he has an appointment as an Imperial Landed Noble. Landed Viscount fiefs are generally granted on pre-high population worlds. The title of Viscount is not used everywhere in the Imperium. It is most common in the Imperial core, and is rare in more recently settled regions such as the Spinward Marches. Viscounts are referred to by their title followed by the individual's surname or by the name of the principal fief-world within the county.
4. Count / Countess or Contessa
The fifth level of noble rank is the count, and is generally associated with two or three worlds within a subsector, usually including one that is classified as either high population or industrial. An individual accorded a county may receive a fief of land, generally not more than 10,000 km2, and/or 32 terrain hexes on worlds within the fief-world's sector, with an associated non-mainworld terrain hex for each mainworld hex in the same respective system(s) if he has an appointment as an Imperial Landed Noble. Landed Count fiefs are generally granted on high population or industrial worlds. Counts are referred to by their title followed by the individual's surname or by the name of the principal fief-world within the county.
3. Duke / Duchess
The sixth and seventh levels of noble rank are called dukes, and are either associated with a subsector capital world or an important world within a subsector. Those associated with a subsector capital world are the governing Subsector Duke of the subsector. Dukes are referred to either by the Ducal title followed by "of" and the subsector name, or by the Ducal title followed by "of" and the world-name, as appropriate. The power of a duke depends on circumstances and the situation within the sector, but generally one duke within a sector rises to power and becomes the Sector Duke, the overseer of that sector as a whole. No special title is awarded to a Sector Duke.
- An individual accorded a lesser duchy may receive a fief of land, generally not more than 100,000 km2, and/or 64 terrain hexes on worlds within his fief-world's sector, with an associated non-mainworld terrain hex for each mainworld hex in the same respective system(s) if he has an appointment as an Imperial Landed Noble. Landed Lesser Dukes fiefs are generally granted on worlds deemed Important by the Imperium.
- Lesser Dukes titles can be granted in a variety of indivdually specific forms based upon the manner or reason for which the title was granted. Examples of such titles might include: Duke, Count-Duke, Local Duke, Lesser Duke, Short Duke, Long Duke, Border Duke, March Duke, Vice-Duke, Regent-Duke, etc.
- An individual accorded a Subsector Duchy will receive a fief of land, generally not more than 100,000 km2, and/or 128 terrain hexes on worlds within the fief-world's sector, with an associated non-mainworld terrain hex for each mainworld hex in the same respective system(s). Subsector Dukes are always associated with subsector capital worlds.
2. Archduke / Archduchess
The Emperor Artemsus subsequently created a new form of Archduke upon the establishment of the original six Domains of the Imperium, each of which having an Archduke exercising overall control of his/her respective Domain, and acting as an intermediary between the Emperor and the other levels of nobility (except for the Domain of Sylea, where the Emperor him/herself acted as the titular Archduke).
While Archducal titles may still be granted to High Nobles as an honorific, this is very rare and has only been done a few times in all of the centuries of the Imperium's existence. Modern Archdukes are referred to by the title Archduke followed by the name of their Domain. Modern archdukedoms include a fief consisting of an entire world, generally retained as a private reserve, and/or 256 terrain hexes on worlds within the fief-world's associated Domain, with an associated non-mainworld terrain hex for each mainworld hex in the same respective system(s).
1. Emperor / Empress
Above the range of noble ranks is the Emperor and the Imperial Family. The noble family may include princes, princesses, dowagers, and other noble titles. The spouse of an Emperor or Empress is technically the "Empress Consort" or "Emperor Consort", but in common everyday usage they are simply refereed to as "Empress" or "Emperor", respectively.
- The Emperor is the ultimate object of thousands of oaths of loyalty and fealty.
History & Background (Dossier)
All but the highest noble ranks (count, duke, archduke) can be awarded in recognition of achievement or preeminence in a field of endeavor, though all can be awarded as honor titles to existing lower-ranked peers at the Emperor's pleasure.
Noble ranks are generally conferred for achievement, service, or position.
- Ranks for achievement (heroism in the military, success in civil or commercial enterprise, innovation and discovery in the sciences) customarily carry no special reward beyond the noble title itself.
- Ranks for service (political support in office, victory in the military, contributions or economic assistance from the commercial sector) often carry with them fiefs. Enfeoffment is, however, a different process, and is granted by a separate letter of enfeoffment.
- Ranks for position (occupying specific governmental offices) carry with them special privileges such as pensions. The specific prerequisites, however, vary widely, often at the whim of the Emperor.
Noble Fiefs (Enfeoffment)
Patents of nobility, especially for service, may include fiefs of land.
Fiefs are granted in a Letter of Enfeoffment separate from the patent of nobility. Fiefs are granted to the individual at the discretion of the Emperor and remain the Emperor's possessions. However, the fief conveys the right to use the land, to rent or lease it out and collect income from it. The fief is a convenient method for the Emperor to reward certain nobles. The size of the fief depends upon how great an income the Emperor wishes to award a noble, and the location of the fief itself. A knight with a fief consisting of several hundred square kilometers of sparsely settled wilderness and one with a single hectare of the business district of a city can be considered to hold equal fiefs. Hereditary nobles have often had the fief in their family for generations, and have built it up in value and income potential. Some sites at the capital generate considerable income each year. Other fiefs have been administered with great care to ensure that the territory be not only valuable, but also tastefully used. Still others have been exploited ruthlessly in mining or industrial pursuits. Completely separate from fiefs, a noble may own land obtained from other sources (inheritance, purchase, and so forth). These lands remain the property of their owner even if his title is revoked, and can be disposed of separately from fiefs.
An interesting note is that the fiefdoms of higher ranks often include orbital or systemic "property" within a World-System.
Distinguishment (Noble Discernment)
Nobles in the Third Imperium can be divided into three types: honour (for achievement), ceremonial or rank (for position), and landed or high (for service). In general a noble's status is lower when he leaves his sphere of influence.
- Honour Nobles receive a patent of nobility from the Emperor for heroism in the military, success in civil or commercial enterprise, or innovation and discovery in the sciences. Normally only patents for knights, baronets, barons, and (rarely) marquises may be issued for achievement, though there are rare exceptions for higher titles. Also, legacy titles of all levels which no longer have an associated Landed Fief or Administrative position are generally considered to fall under the "Honour" category, as well as those nobles with non-substantive "courtesy titles" arising from a close familial relationship to a higher-ranked noble possessing a substantive patent (though both of these are sometimes considered to overlap with the category of local ceremonial/rank tiles - see below).
Ceremonial (Rank) Nobility
- Ceremonial Nobles, or Rank Nobles are given because of a citizen's position.
- These are nobles with connections and obligations to the government of the Third Imperium. While these nobles are also sometimes thought of as Landed Nobility due to individual personal or fiscal circumstances (or High Imperial Nobles in the case of upper level administrators), the term Landed (or High) Nobility properly belong to the third class of nobles described below.
- Ceremonial/Rank nobility belong to one of two sub-types.
- 1. Local Nobility: Serve as Imperial representatives in systems that have a government somehow not conducive to administration by Imperial landed nobility. Patents for local rank nobles are typically hereditary, and are generally equivalent to barons, baronets, and knights.
- 2. Administrators: Citizens who are appointed to an Imperial Office. Often they are administrators of worlds or territories with no formal Imperial representation, or bureaucrats who hold leadership positions in the Imperial Bureaucracy and its many associated offices. These patents are not hereditary as they are tied to a position. If they retire from that position they are allowed to continue to use the title, but it is not heritable (does not pass down).
- Landed Nobles are the smallest segment of the Imperial Nobility and constitute the peerage, generally consisting of people belonging to old and powerful families with voting privileges in the Moot. Landed noble titles are given for: "Political support in office, victory in the military, or contributions or economic assistance from the commercial sector" beyond any reasonable expectation. These nobles directly administer Imperial territories and are personal representatives of the Emperor. They manage and direct the Imperial Bureaucracy. Hereditary, landed nobles are trained from birth to lead. Their training includes instruction in several languages such as Anglic and Vilani, interstellar relations and diplomacy, the art of self defense, advanced administration, fundamental literature, and a variety of other skills. High Landed Nobles have precedence in the Moot, though even landed barons are immensely powerful as compared to barons belonging to the other classes of Imperial Nobility.
Customs (Protocol & Privilege)
The Imperial Nobility enjoys the use of Noble Protocols and Privileges.
Several aspects of noble rank are governed by a strict protocol, including:
- Title (the formal reference to the person in print or by reference): The noble title includes the allowed prefixes (such as Sir) and suffixes (such as "of Yori") to a name, and the order in which they are presented. Nobles are typically referred to by their titles and world holdings: e.g. Duke Regina or Duke of Regina.
- Style (the method of addressing the individual personality): The noble style dictates the manner in which a noble is addressed, including such honorifics as "Your Grace" or "Your Majesty".
- Precedence (the relative seniority of the individual among others): Precedence is accorded strictly on the basis of government position, with seniority by date of patent following. The date of noble rank is taken from the date of confirmation when an inherited rank is assumed.
In addition, customary perquisites for each noble rank vary widely.
The bulk of patents of nobility are published on one of two lists annually:
- The Holiday List is published on Holiday, the first day of the new year, and covers awards for achievement.
- The Birthday List is published on the Emperor's birthday (Strephon's is day 202) and covers awards for service.
Continuing awards for position are given out as called for by circumstances.
The Nobility Lists are maintained by the Office of the Emperor.
The nobility includes within it a subset called the peerage, which consists of all landed nobles except knights and baronets (though Imperial Landed Baronets have access to and voting rights in the Moot). Except in extraordinary situations, to hold high office in the Imperial bureaucracy, a person must be a peer. Collectively, the peerage constitutes the Moot, the Imperial government's only deliberative body.
Nobility is usually hereditary. Once confirmed by the Moot, a title continues to be passed down to succeeding generation. Titles need not pass through the first born (although this is the accepted practice), and individuals with several titles may divide them among their children as they see fit.
Revocation of Nobility
- High Crimes: Reasons for such revocation are treason, murder, kidnapping, and extortion as well as other felonies.
- Incompetence: Extremely poor performance can also be a reason.
- Discontinuation: Occasionally, a noble rank will not be confirmed upon inheritance.
- All noble ranks within the peerage come from the Emperor.
- The ability to create Knights and Baronets (and in a few rare cases, Barons), however, is shared with the Archdukes of the Imperium, though such archducal appointments are never considered members of the peerage, and always rank equal to but behind those of similar title bestowed by the Emperor.
Many noble families eventually seek to consolidate and increase their power and prestige through concerted efforts of intermarriage or other social institutions of obligation. These families eventually form Noble Houses, which pool the assets of many families into greater accumulations of power, ability, and resources.
- Some have compared to the machinations of the Noble Houses and Clans, as analogous to the dance of Imperial corporations and megacorporations. Perhaps more accurately, the two are massively intertwined to the point where the political aspirations of nobles and the economic aspirations of corporations are practically one.
Landed nobles are recognized by the Emperor and the Third Imperium. They hold Imperial title and sanction. Being a landed noble (peerage) is practically a prerequisite to joining an Noble House although exceptions have been made.
Imperial Clans hold an intermediate position between houses and local world-state nobles. Many of these clans aspire to Imperial recognition and earn it through service or other means, thus acquiring Imperial title, but not always direct Imperial sanction. Sometimes, organized multi-systemic interstellar powers have been known to acquire Imperial title and be recognized as Imperial clans, but not proper Imperial houses.
World-State (Local) Nobility
World-State and/or local nobility possess a bewildering variety of titles and power bases. These nobles often predate Imperial contact and they do not possess Imperial sanction, title, or recognition even if the Imperium negotiates with them. According to Imperial law, they have no official standings or, more to the point, they possess the official recognition of a foreign power and not an indigenous, friendly ally. Some are later elevated to greater recognition and status.
Typical Noble Elevation Sequence
The elevation and promotion of a noble and his or her family typically takes the following sequence and may take generations:
- World-State Nobility or Gentleman 》Landed Nobility 》Imperial Clan 》High Nobility 》Noble House 》Emperor
Ducal Elevation Sequence
The Third Imperium has been called a government of, by, and for Dukes. Even the lowest Ducal title is an enormous sign of Distinction. The elevation and promotion of a Duke typically follows the below sequence and often takes many, many generations:
References & Contributors (Sources)
- Classic Traveller Supplement 11 Library Data (N-Z)
- Periodical: Classic Traveller The Travellers' Digest No. 9, TD9
- GURPS Traveller: Nobles
- MegaTraveller Imperial Encyclopedia
- Periodical: Traveller Chronicle 9
- Traveller 5 Core Rules
- Periodical: Imperiallines 7
- Author & Contributor: WHULorigan
- Author & Contributor: Lord (Marquis) and Master of Sophontology Maksim-Smelchak of the Ministry of Science